Christianity spreading like wildfire in secular Nepal

In 1961, there were only 458 Christians in Nepal, which surged to 376,000 by 2011

Pratikshya Khanal
Read Time = 2 mins

History of Christianity in Nepal dates back to 1628, during the reign of Malla ruler of Kantipur. Christians had permission from the King to preach Christianity in the Kathmandu valley. As per records, a small church in Wotu Tole in Kathmandu was established in 1760.

After conquering the kingdoms of Kathmandu valley, Prithvi Narayan Shah expelled every Christian out of Nepal. This move ended the decades of Christian presence in Nepal.

King Tribhuvan opened Nepal’s borders to the world in 1951 and invited the foreign nations to assist in Nepal’s development. Missionaries started to enter Nepal in 1950 but did not directly involve themselves in preaching. They started involving in social services like healthcare and education. From a single secret Christian residing in Nepal in 1951, the number of Nepali Christians grew to about 40,000 by 1990 and has increased more rapidly since then.

Nepal officially becomes a Hindu nation under King Mahendra. The constitution introduced by King Mahendra in 1962 officially recognized Hinduism as the state religion. Christianity continued to spread as missionaries were devoted to spreading the Christian faith.

After the abolishment of Nepal's 240-year-old monarchy following a decade of civil war, a coalition government came to power, declaring Nepal a secular state in 2008. The 2015 constitution ensures religious freedom, the beginning of the golden age for missionary work. However, an anti-conversion law that came into force in 2018 states, anyone convicted of proselytizing face up to five years in jail. But political instability and weak law enforcement indirectly contribute to the continuation of the conversion.

Missionaries all over the country are dedicated to promoting Christianity and converting many people into faith. Christian churches are mushrooming throughout country. The data suggests there are 7,758 churches in Nepal. Alongside that increase, the number of people associated with those churches is also increasing.

In 1961, there were only 458 Christians in Nepal, which surged to nearly 376,000 by 2011. According to the latest data from the national Christian community survey, there are now 683,261 Christians in the country. Most of the surge in Christian numbers in Nepal is among the members of the Dalit community, who are traditionally at the bottom of the social hierarchy and face a lot of discrimination.

Though outlawed in 2001, discrimination based on caste is still deeply rooted in society, particularly in rural Nepal. Christianity comes to them as an escape from the discrimination, which contributes to conversion. Many of these conversions are also related to the healing of illness; missionaries emphasize the healing aspect of Christianity to lure people. Poverty fuels this aspect, as they have no fund to seek medical help they turn to faith for relief.

Multiple well-funded missionaries work in Nepal to promote Christianity and influence people to convert. As no other religion in Nepal is as dedicated in broadening its reach and membership, Christianity is being able to garner public attention.

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